Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Practical Pantry: How much?

Food Storage Calculator and Inventory Sheet

Goals are pretty common this time of year and I have been fleshing out a goal of mine that has been floating around my head for a while now. In the time since I started keeping a pantry I have wanted to have several months of food for our family stored. The planning of this is what has always stumped me. How in the world do you know how much food your family would need for six months? Because of this, my focus has been on storing a few of our favorite things or a particular item we use a lot. Diced tomatoes are purchased by the case. Wheat comes in fifty pound bags. Every summer I can two bushels of peaches and all the tomatoes our neighbors can't use. I can several kinds of pickles, sweet pickles for potato salad and kosher dill pickles for eating with burgers or sandwiches. Just so you know, they are killer dill pickles. But this has been the extent of our bulk storage.
That is until recently when I discovered Food Storage Calculators online. My favorite is from this food storage blog. They created an Excel document that allows you to enter in the number of people in your family and the number of months you want it to calculate and it gives you amounts you need to purchase based on the recommendations for the average adult and child. It is customizable as far as the items to enter, for example, it listed shortening and I don't use shortening so I changed that to butter. I switched powdered eggs for ground flaxseed and dry soy beans for adzuki beans (Just tried them and we love them. They cook in the same amount of time as brown rice!). You can also adjust the amounts you want. We don't drink a ton of milk so I dropped the amount for powdered milk down. I added on canned fruit, applesauce, cocoa, raisins, nuts, coffee beans and tea.
You can print this list as an inventory of your pantry and also use it to help you decide what to purchase next. It can be pretty intimidating but taking it in steps and finding good sources of bulk foods will make it much easier. I am working toward a six month supply of food for our family so numbers like 400 pounds of wheat, 137 pounds of rice, 6 gallons of oil and 110 pounds of sugar are a bit overwhelming. At the same time it gives me a concrete idea of what to aim for. You may be considering two weeks worth of food or one month's worth. It is recommended that we all keep three weeks worth of food for our families. Well, just plug your numbers into the spreadsheet and let it do the math for you. Try to think of everything you use to feed your family and add that to the list. Whenever you purchase something, plug that amount in and it will tell you how much more you need to buy to meet your total need for that item. It's pretty awesome! At least for a food nerd like me it is.


Susan said...

Cool! Love the flexibility of changing in and out items that your family eats and uses frequently! What a great resource, Audra!

Heather said...

What an awesome resource Audra. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This is cool yet slightly scary! I love the idea of having enough food to last us if necessary but, like you, had no idea how to go about it. I will be checking this out. Now I might actually have to do something about my vague ideas!

Anonymous said...

I commented before on an earlier pantry primer post. My husband found that the Mormon church is big on preparedness and also sell bulk foods at great prices to the general populous from their "canneries". Here's a link to their order/price form if you're interested. We figured out that would purchase a year's supply of food along with the proper storage containers for the cost of 3 months of our family food budget.

Kate in NH